Lily of the Valley Orphanage Library!

Introducing the new Lily Library! What was once a restroom, is now a cozy little library with reading nooks where the kids can sit and enjoy reading. Thanks to everyone who donated books and to Fabric & Lace for donating the fabric for the reading nook cushions.

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“Commitment to raising these children.”

Mike and Lori are heading to Lily of the Valley Orphanage, S. Africa tomorrow for at least 2 years! Seated in the center of this photo are Mike and Lori Rosenbauer who volunteered for 6 months at Lily Orphanage in 2014 and decided these orphans need consistency and commitment from caretakers and are heading back.

Mike will be Lily’s Manager; he will be responsible for 100+ orphans as well as managing all volunteers. Lori will be teaching preschool and focusing on early childhood development.

Rosenbauer with CT TeamSurrounding Mike and Lori are the CT volunteer team to Lily of the Valley Orphanage- past, present and future volunteers. We are planning another volunteer team to Lily this summer!

Columbia Business School Pangea Advisors

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This semester these three MBA students (Gina, Eivind, Amy) are pro bono consulting for Lily of the Valley orphanage in South Africa!

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Some of the previous volunteers that we have served with at Lily, (Charles, Katey, Phil) joined us to introduce Lily and thank them for committing their time and talents for this semester-long project.

Happy Thankgiving!

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving 25 Greenwich High School students spent most of their evening delivering donations of Thanksgiving dinner to families in Greenwich and StamfordThe Diddel family organized Baskets from Heaven 22 years ago. This year 265 baskets, each filled with enough food to feed 30, were hand delivered with much joy!

Nic Addison, Chairman LOV (Lily of the Valley) S. Africa visits CT

Delighted to introduce Nic Addison, Chairman of Lily of the Valley- S. Africa to Trinity Church, Greenwich this weekend. Nic started his career in Corporate Finance in the US and across the last 20 years has led an effort to break the AIDS orphan cycle in KwaZuluNatal, S. Africa. Pictured below some of this summer's volunteer team to S. Africa. Contact us if you'd be interested in teaching for 6 months or more at Lily Orphanage.

CEO Makaphutu Orphanage, Lily of the Valley South Africa visiting us in October!

This Summer our team from CT and NYC visited the Makaphutu Orphanage touring the grounds with CEO and visionary, Nic Addison. Nic together with his wife, Melissa has spent 8 years working in KwaZulu-Natal, the HIV/Aids epicenter of the world. He is the chairman of LOV and co-leads a comprehensive initiative aimed at breaking the aids cycle. Makaphutu is a small orphanage of 40 children. Their leadership team and CEO work very closely with the Lily of the Valley Orphanage hoping to bring great change to their communities at large. They are committed to creating loving, sustainable communities. We are excited to welcome Nic to CT/NY this October where he will share updates of his orphanage in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Please see the link below giving you a more complete virtual experience of the amazing work taking place within the village of Makaphutu. For the last three years our family has visited both orphanages in S. Africa and we encourage anyone who may be interested volunteering to please reach out to us!

            http://makaphutu.wordpress.com/about-makaphutu/

     

2013 Summer with Nic Addison touring Makaphutu Orphanage.

Volunteer trip to S. Africa has begun!

Charles, Molly, and Darla, the first few members of our volunteer group, headed out to Lily of the Valley Orphanage this morning! All three volunteers were saddled with 100 lbs each of donations, including school supplies and clothing, that we are bringing to the orphanage. These volunteers will spend the next weeks teaching at the orphanage and making a huge impact in the lives of these children. To stay updated on our trip, follow us on Twitter at @TabghaLove where we will be tweeting live!

CT Volunteers head to S. Africa this summer- 13 volunteers head to S. Africa!

This summer, we are taking a group of volunteers to go to Lily of the Valley Orphanage in South Africa. We are leaving mid July and we couldn't be more excited!

Christy (far left) volunteered at Lily of the Valley Orphanage and was so moved by her experience she decided to leave NY as a social worker for the disabled and relocate to S Africa to help raise the 100+ orphans at Lily.  She's been on Lily's staff for the last 3 years and our family has witnessed the impact of her commitment to the teenagers at Lily. These are the first generation of kids leaving the orphanage and they need life skills, so Christy used her baking skills to start a bakery and teach them the ins and outs of running a small business.

What is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a form of sustainable agriculture that consists of a self-contained, closed loop system containing fish, chickens, vegetables, and fruit trees. The fish tanks contain 50 fish each which fertilize the water via their waste. This fertilized water is then pumped through a series of growing beds, planted with vegetables, as well as eco lagoons, planted with food for the fish and poultry. The plants are nourished by the impurities in the water, taking them out before the water returns to the fish tanks. The primary function of the fish is to fertilize water for the vegetables, but they are also harvested as another source of food. 

An aquaponics system that involves tilapia, watercress, and tomatoes
This model is self-contained and highly efficient in both the economic and environmental perspective; we estimate that it will save 65%  on our food budget for the 2 households it provides for in the Children's Village, and it uses 90% less water than traditional agricultural methods.

Aquaponics Grant

Our son, Stephen was successful in securing a $20K grant for Lily of the Valley Orphanage in S. Africa for 2013.  The 2013 investment is being used to install an aquaponics system for food for the orphanage.  Aquaponics is a system of simultaneously growing vegetables and farming fish.  They are also incorporating a chicken/egg component.  This is a pilot project to calculate what percentage of the nutritional requirement of a household can be produced with an investment of $10,000 so that we might add additional modules to the system to provide an even higher level of self sustainability.  We are so impressed that Brendan Stapleton, the CEO of Lily is investing in a system which may provide longer term benefits of not only the food but career opportunities for the children of Lily.

Children at Lily with the chickens and eggs

Life Changers orphans were delighted receiving gifts from their U.S. family

 

The Lilly orphans who were selected by families here in America are always thrilled with the notes and care packages which we are able to hand deliver with volunteers who head back to Lily Orphanage every year.  Witnessing the impact of your gifts to the Lily children is so encouraging and makes the Life Changers program so special.

Surprise Christmas bonus

Christmas miracle for Lily Orphanage Staff! They were told there wasn't enough money for a Christmas bonus this year. A number of big hearted friends contributed and we are sending $10,875 and encouraging notes to show our love. Merry Christmas to all!

Valley Fresh Phase 2 expansion has begun!

                                                                   Our family has been working with other volunteers on the business plan and expansion of Valley Fresh, the produce business of Lily of the Valley Orphanage.  Our goal is to grow the business in order for Lily of the Valley Orphanage to be self sustaining.

Thrilled to report Phase 2 has begun with construction of another greenhouse as well as open field plantings of seedlings.  Nearly 35 staff (including maintenance, Valley Fresh employees, management, volunteers and children teamed up to plant nearly 14, 000 seedllings!

First customers of purses- Sewing Business of the Girls (Life Changers Program opportunity)

Our kids were delighted to be the first customers of bags made by the young ladies at the orphanage!  This sewing program promises to be an opportunity for children to earn income and learn trade skills for the future.  Rachelle, pictured in the middle, is a 6 month volunteer from Canada who has used her sewing skills to set up this thriving program for the girls.  Thando and Mbali, on the left of the photo, are sisters at the orphanage who were wonderfully encouraged when we purchased their bags.  Our girls were thrilled to be part of entrepreneurship at it's finest!  To date, the girls have sold several dozen bags. 

Our commitment to educating each of the orphans includes life skills education-rather than academics alone,teaching trade skills for future employment and independence.

Update on Nkosi

Nkosi is doing well.  After his visit to CT this summer, Brendan, the CEO, reports that “Nkosi is changed.  He is more confident now”. Nkosi wants to become a police officer which requires graduating from high school, getting a driver’s license ($300), and 1 year of police training.  In the last few weeks, Nkosi has toured the local police station in South Africa, spoken with police officers and has a goal.  It is awesome that Nkosi had the opportunity to visit America and now feels so important since he was recently featured in the Greenwich Time newspaper.

Greenwich Time article

Life Changers project with the Stantons

"Educating a generation of orphans one child at a time."

This summer our family hosted Nkosi, a teenager from Lily Orphanage in South Africa to visit us here in the US, his first travels outside of the orphanage.  He and others at Lily Orphanage are a generation of children who are, for the first time, surviving HIV and aging out of the orphanage.  They need life skills to lead independent lives.  Life Changers is a project to sponsor the education of each of the 120 + Lily of the Valley orphans.  The education could be academic for some and trade skills (farming, raising livestock, craft making) for others. Besides a financial contribution to a child, the relationship is so important.  Most of these children have little chance of adoption, so the relationship of Life Changers offers a child a commitment to their future through a relationship with a sponsor-sending letters and financial support and providing hope for their future. 

A team of volunteers travels back to Lily Orphanage in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa every summer.  Our family is planning our return trip again in 2013.   We invite you to open up your heart and life to a vulnerable child and you too, might be powerfully impacted.

Summer camp has new meaning

This year our family volunteered with YoungLife in Santiago, Dominican Republic with underpriveged youth living in inner city slums and a special needs orphanage.  These volunteer days were some of the most challenging of our year.  We paid for 10 of these children to experience summer camp for the first time-they were thrilled with the rare escape to a quiet and green retreat with other children .  Pico Escondido is a summer camp for teens living in urban poverty. It costs $65 to send a disadvantaged teen for 1 week of camp.

Dominican Republic

 

January 28, 2012- Dominican Republic-  A most challenging day

"Spending the day with severely disabled children in the Dominican Republic was one of the most difficult days for our family.  When we arrived at the facility that cares for abandoned and severely disabled children, they clung onto us and begged us to take them out.  Most of the children were limited in their mobility, and Ken and Stephen linked shoulders with some of the children in order to walk alongside them.  The din of moaning and crying throughout our time in the facility was very upsetting.  I brought bags of donated nail polishes since we were told the children spend most of their days in their cots.  I thought the bright colors on their fingernails would be a happy diversion for them to look at as well as a tangible way for me to demonstrate care and love to them as we sat together, holding hands and applying the polish.   Julia and I carefully untwisted their curled fingers and asked questions though we received no responses due to their inability to communicate.   We tried to be cheerful and show affection as we gave them manicures and pedicures.  I have to believe that we were able to demonstrate care in our simple act of making contact and spending time with them.

Our team (5 others along with our family) rented a van and we took 4 of these teens out for a pizza lunch and arcade excursion.  Ken and Stephen were drenched in sweat from struggling to get them in and out of wheelchairs and the van.  These teens were so excited that they got dressed up for the excursion.   Our only experience with special needs children are those who have loving families, completely devoted to providing them every opportunity for a fulfilled life.  These children, however, are without a family and therefore fully dependent on others.  I considered the spectrum of how we value others by superficial qualities and accomplishments and recognized that their life would be incredibly difficult because they are alone.  By the end of the day spent getting to know them, I realized what they were able to affect in me: patience, appreciation for their efforts and joy in every one of their accomplishments.

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that has been reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed”  Booker T. Washington"

 

More Families Volunteering!

I was asked to write “How to Volunteer as a Family” article.   it has been an illuminating and inspiring year and well worth any perceived sacrifice.  We are delighted that we now know a few families who are planning similar trips this summer.   Hope my article below details the process to encourage others to consider a trip too.

http://archive.fairfieldcountylook.com/index.php/lifestyle/1990-volunteering-as-family

 

This summer’s volunteer team to Lily Orphanage

Every year a team of volunteers travels from NYC to Lily Orphanage in South Africa.  This time last year, our family arrived at Lily and I recall as a mother, I was deeply moved by the 120 orphans who were born into a seemingly impossible situation and humbled by the selfless individuals who chose to care for these vulnerable children.  Our first week at Lily, I asked a boy to leave the dishes he was washing and join the kids who were playing.  He was excessively grateful.  I remember shedding tears while washing those dishes recalling the hundreds of times we, as parents instinctively care for our kids throughout the day and realizing there are so many children who are completely dependent on the kindness of strangers to help raise them. Certainly our family could devote our attention to these kids this year.

They have arrived!

Thankfully, Nkosi travelled well on this first time travelling on an airplane.    They are now "family" as we've introduced them to Grandpa and Grandma Song and Korean food. So funny that they were excited to see a chipmunk on our driveway.  When we were in South Africa we were excited to see warthogs and rhinos.

Friends from Lily of the Valley Orphanage, South Africa travelling to our home!

Brendan (CEO of Lily Orphanage), his wife, Suzy, and Nkosi, a teen orphan at Lily have begun their long 27+ hour journey from Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa to JFK airport.  We've travelled this gruelling itinerary 4 times as a family this year and are thinking of Nkosi who will be seeing an airplane and flying such a long distance for his first flight.  He has never travelled much further than Lily Orphanage so this trip to NYC and CT is beyond his imagination.    Our family has been getting ready for their arrival to our home with such anticipation- we've been painting rooms, redecorating and trying to make everything special for our friends.  We earnestly want Nkosi's first vacation to be wonderful!

20 years later Diamond Head Hawaii

Julia writes: 20 years ago mom and dad got engaged at the top of Diamond Head in Hawaii.  I know this year especially, they have been reflecting on how their lives have evolved across the last twenty years.

Hawaii is our final destination for this "year of travel".  Ken's cousin, Fay's wedding to Sean, a Hawaiian, prompted 50 family members worldwide to celebrate a wedding and enjoy family in Honolulu. This year has been about valuing relationships and we couldn't have imagined a more perfect way to end our year than to spend time enjoying family in gorgeous Hawaii!

20 years ago

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Mothers Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the fabulous Moms in my life!
This year we met some extraordinary women who are not only mothers to their own children but to abandoned and orphaned children. Their optimism, endurance and limitless capacity to love has been an inspiration.
Pictured below is Pearl, is a mother of 10 children- adopted as well as foster children who lives nearby Lily Orphanage in KwaZulu Natal, So Africa.
Pearl foster mother to 10!

Lily teen’s dance video by volunteers Christy and Dan

Dan Lee volunteered this Fall at Lily Orphanage and was so inspired with the work there that he decided to return to Lily again in the beginning of the year,  volunteering for several months.  There is something undeniably captivating about Lily Orphanage for so many people to be affected in the same way.  Dan spent much of his time with the teenage boys at Lily teaching them photography, study skills and being a mentor to these young men.  He has devoted his time and expertise in photography, videography and website design for Lily.   Our kids were delighted to have him stay at our home for a few days this week.  We have met so many talented, generous people who are now like family.

 

[dropdown_box expand_text=”Lyrics” show_more=”Show” show_less=”Hide” start=”hide”]

 

God is Enough by Lucrae

We so impressed with them ladies, Who be drivin' Mercedes Who be drivin' them crazy And we gotta be crazy We so impressed with them fellas Who be makin' them jealous Who be makin' them stellas And we gotta be crazy I'm so impressed King who on the throne Who left his heavenly home Never did a thing wrong They crucified him on A tree, there he made It was crazy how it set the stage For his resurrection from the grave That gets me amazed You can be the flyest man With a hundred grand in your hand Swag right, sag tight And a Gucci fan You can be the richest, be the smartest, be the hardest, all of that But I guarantee before I die they all are fallin' flat

[Hook:] Used to want a lotta things All the stuff that's on TV Education, cars, and clothes Fashion lights and jewelry Focused on the wrong stuff Now I got my eyes on you And now I know that

[Chorus:] God is enough-nough God is enough-nough God is enough-nough You are enough-nough Never too much-uch More than enough-nough God is enough-nough You are enough for me Party like the fast life, hurry this the last flight Chasin' all your dreams, this right here could be your last night And man you finally got your cash right But it never seems to last right You know you sick of lookin', you sick of chasin' I think you know the truth, you just don't wanna face it Your life is empty, though you havin' fun You never satisfied, you never get enough You go from thrill-seekin' to pill-poppin' From heavy drinkin' to club-hoppin' You just can't stop it, like you're a slave And you chasin' nothin' all the way into the grave

[Hook:] [Chorus:] Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want Takes away my fears, you restore my soul Off into the sky, the dead in Christ arise To be with you forever, see with the clearest eyes Quench my inner thirst, there's something more in life No money, cars, relationships compare to joy in Christ Love that falls from selfish ones that like to flirt with self- destruct No need to stut, know what I want, to keep it, but my God's enough

[Hook:] [Chorus:] I don't need these worldly things, no-oh I don't need these worldly things, no-oh More of you and less of me, G-od More of you and less of me, G-od I don't need these worldly things, no-oh I don't need these worldly things, no-oh More of you and less of me, G-od More of you and less of me, G-od

[Chorus:] You are enough for me. [/dropdown_box]

In the news! Valley Fresh-tomatoes to support the orphanage

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Lily Orphanage is investing in a state of the art Hydroponic Gardening system. which uses less water than soil gardening, with a vision to be self-sustaining.   Their goal is  to increase production so that 40% the orphanage's budget will be covered.  Their model of self sustainability and using hydroponic water conservation has tremendous potential, and if successful, can be replicated throughout Africa and other indigent areas around the world.  Ken and I, with a group of volunteers, are consulting pro bono on this project with Ken Walton, CEO of Valley Fresh.  This is cutting edge technology which may possibly be the wave of the future.  See the article below.

Valley Fresh Farmers Weekly Article (PDF)

New 9th grade classroom!

Today is the first day of the new 9th grade class at Lily Orphanage! Lilyvale School has up to 4th grade until today. The teens at Lily Orphanage have not been receiving a proper education. In the local public schools, there are more than 80 kids to a class and most students aren’t able to progress to the next school level. The Lily teens shared with our teens that they are often victimized and fearful at school since they are regularly threatened physically and verbally. There exists a harsh stigma to being an orphan.

Beverly has started the first high school class at Lily Orphanage. She is from KwaZulu-Natal, graduated from Wake Forest with a Masters Degree in Education and has impressive teaching experience worldwide. Her passion for teaching and love of these children is so apparent. It is remarkable how Lily is successful in securing exceptionally qualified and compassionate staff.  There is something very compelling about Lily Orphanage.  We felt it and so have others.

The 9th graders now have a proper classroom with National Curriculum books and are so excited to have their own textbooks for the first time. Beverly shared with us that the teens need reading books and our kids are eager to send over some of their favorites. We will gladly accept donations for any Grade 6 on up reading books, novels as we plan to send boxes with the August team of volunteers.

Coming to NY!!

Lily Orphanage

Brendan, Suzy and Luke Stapleton

An orphan will be coming to visit us this summer with Brendan (CEO of Lily) and Suzy, Brendan's wife. He has never been on an airplane or traveled far from his home at Lily Orphanage. He can't believe he'll see NYC. Brendan and Suzy decided to bring an orphan with them instead of one of their three boys. They seem like parents to all of the orphans.

Our gifts make a Difference!

We returned to Lily Orphanage witnessing first hand the investments made and the impact of these investments in every operating area.   Virtually every section of Lily Orphanage has improved.   It is especially encouraging to see the direct impact of these investments on the children.  We recognized Lily children wearing outfits donated by our friends and family and I was thrilled to see the children’s library filled with books that were donated by many of our friends as well.  Some of the kids were noticeably different from when we saw them 6 months ago-their physical health, their hopeful attitudes and their commitment to schooling and their future. Having the opportunity to see the impact of one’s donations makes Lily Orphanage unique.  Every year a team of volunteers from the States returns to partner with Lily and we are all able to see the growth and improvement from our investments and efforts.
Our kids are already planning their return trip to S Africa. We have all fallen in love with the children at Lily!

Adoption

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Thrilled that two children at Lily Orphanage were being adopted and that we were at Lily when the two families came to bring home their children. Our family lived in communal housing for a week with one of the families adopting. How illuminating it was to understand the process of adoption and get to know this beautiful family who is opening up their heart and lives to include another child.

“A life given away for others”

Attached is an article written by Linnea Davis, daughter of Rev Davis of Stanwich Church in Greenwich, when she served in the Dominican Republic. I have been encouraged by friends this year, including Rev Davis, who served overseas with his family for many years.  I am sharing an email between us:

Anna wrote:  Dear Rev. Chuck,

Hope you have been well.  Ken and I were speaking about you and imagine our surprise when Saturday, your daughter came by our home!  We were thrilled to meet Linnea as you've shared stories of her- she is beautiful and joyful.

Ken and I returned with our teens from the Dominican Republic meeting our World Vision sponsored children and serving with Young Life in Santiago.  We are getting ready to head back to Lily Orphanage in S Africa.    We have found this year emotionally and physically demanding but so rewarding.  We greet each day with faith and expectancy and have been blessed witnessing His love and provision.  We've been humbled by how little makes such an impact because His love is demonstrated in our simple acts of faith.  We still are unsure of what to do with our experiences and we are praying for guidance when we return to our CT home to resume our lives here.  In His love, Anna and Ken

Rev Chuck Davis (Stanwich Church, CT ) wrote:  Hey Anna!  

Great to hear from you.  And I am glad that you got to meet Linnea.  I think my kids (now adults) are the best.  Linnea actually discovered the reality of poverty during a trip with her youth group to the D.R.  Even though she grew up in the 6th poorest country in the world she missed the poverty reality because it was our everyday and her friends on the street lived it.  It was out from under the covering of Dad and Mom, in the garbage dumps of the D.R., that poverty became a reality for her.  She actually won a scholarship for an article that she wrote about that experience. Great to hear of your ongoing journey.  You guys are glowing on your website.  It goes to show that meaning is found most deeply in a life given away for others!  Thanks for reconnecting. Blessings on the journey! Chuck

Article here

Dazzling Generosity

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One of the most amazing blessings for us this year has been meeting and working alongside extraordinarily generous people.  We have continually been inspired by their acts of grace and goodness.  Because our daughter, Julia, became ill, we missed taking out the volunteers for a nice dinner.  When I offered Julia Veloz, Youth Director of Young Life, the extra funds from the dinner and a donation specifically for her, she immediately announced that with these funds, she would rent the van again and take the disabled teens out for an ice cream excursion.   This instinctive response to address other people’s needs and desires before their own has been a recurring theme of the leaders we have served with this year.

Sick day

Dominican Republic

Our daughter, Julia became sick after we dropped off the disabled children from our excursion. She started throwing up once we began our journey back. I too, felt physically and emotionally exhausted, and she must have done everything possible to hold it together while we were with the kids and our volunteer group. The disabled teens were around the same age as our kids and spending the day with them must have been incredibly difficult. I ruled out food poisoning since we were all eating the same items. Nursing her back to health was one of my weakest moments of self-doubt about this year. As a mom, I felt horrible that she was suffering and guilty that we may have asked too much of our kids. Of course she recovered. Upon reflection, it’s remarkable that this was the only day that any of us were unwell throughout our travels. I am so grateful that we were all in good health and able to participate fully throughout our days of service.

Value of a Life

Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic

Spending the day with severely disabled children in the Dominican Republic was one of the most difficult days for our family.  When we arrived at the facility that cares for abandoned and severely disabled children, they clung onto us and begged us to take them out.  Most of the children were limited in their mobility, and Ken and Stephen linked shoulders with some of the children in order to walk alongside them.  The din of moaning and crying throughout our time in the facility was very upsetting.  I brought bags of donated nail polishes since we were told the children spend most of their days in their cots.  I thought the bright colors on their fingernails would be a happy diversion for them to look at as well as a tangible way for me to demonstrate care and love to them as we sat together, holding hands and applying the polish.   Julia and I carefully untwisted their curled fingers and asked questions though we received no responses due to their inability to communicate.   We tried to be cheerful and show affection as we gave them manicures and pedicures.  I have to believe that we were able to demonstrate care in our simple act of making contact and spending time with them.

Our team (5 others along with our family) rented a van and we took 4 of these teens out for a pizza lunch and arcade excursion.  Ken and Stephen were drenched in sweat from struggling to get them in and out of wheelchairs and the van.  These teens were so excited that they got dressed up for the excursion.   Our only experience with special needs children are those who have loving families, completely devoted to providing them every opportunity for a fulfilled life.  These children, however, are without a family and therefore fully dependent on others.  I considered the spectrum of how we value others by superficial qualities and accomplishments and recognized that their life would be incredibly difficult because they are alone.  By the end of the day spent getting to know them, I realized what they were able to affect in me: patience, appreciation for their efforts and joy in every one of their accomplishments.

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that has been reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed”  Booker T. Washington

Pico Escondido retreat

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Pico Escondido is a summer camp and a rare escape to a quiet and green retreat for a teen living in urban poverty. It costs $65 to send a disadvantaged teen for 1 week of camp. During the week, we worked with Julia Veloz who serves the disadvantaged Santiago teens. Her tireless enthusiasm and goodness is beautiful.

Painting a house

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Our family felt unprepared for the task of painting this home. This year, we made ourselves open and available to the needs of the organizations we visit. As a result, our family is not always aware of what is expected of us day to day on our volunteer trips.

One of the lessons of this year has been that we all rally together as a family for whatever task or circumstance presents itself, and we've been able to handle everything with good cheer. The irony didn't escape me that while we were here in the Dominican Republic painting this home, we had workmen painting rooms in our home in the US.

In one afternoon, we surprisingly made quite an impact- not only in the decor but in the spirit of giving (paint supplies and our time and effort). The family was so moved by our small gesture.

Cleaning up the school grounds

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Our family was asked to visit a number of local public schools in the Santiago district. We brought donations, played with the kids and helped to clean their school yard. We made a game of collecting trash. It was remarkable how much garbage litters the streets and playgrounds.

A successful microfinance business

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Rosandy sells used clothing to support her family of 6 children. Her husband is in construction and has been without work for 4 months. Her first loan was for $350 and she has taken 3 loans as she has grown her business. At the high season she earns approximately $30 a day.

A successful microfinance business

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Josefina’s first loan was for $400 and she has now doubled her income. Her 24 year old son was once a World Vision sponsored child and her goal is to earn enough money to purchase a house which costs around $70,000.

Anderson and his Grandmother

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Our family met our World Vision sponsored children and their families! Our teenagers chose a child their own age to sponsor when they were 6 and 7 and now, 8 years later, we met them! Our kids were struck with how similar they were to themselves- their interest, hopes, and how our small monthly contribution of $35 made such a difference in their lives.

Meeting Anderson

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Stephen's sponsored child, Anderson, lives in a remote area next to the border of Haiti. Stephen was sympathetic to Anderson's schooling situation- Without a birth certificate, he is now unable to attend school so he has been home this year.  We learned that many children do not have birth certificates and are therefore not eligible to attend school.

Mireny’s family, in their home

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When we visited Mireny's home,  we were shocked by their stark living conditions. Their house was around 300sq feet and was missing doors so wouldn't protect them from the elements. Rooms were divided by cardboard and they didn't have a bathroom or running water.

We realized everything we gave as presents would be an indulgence for them- dishware, clothes, makeup, watches, school supplies, jewelry, photo albums. Mireny was most excited about her gift of a small mirror.  Mireny excitedly showed us her room.  Our teen, Julia was saddened to see that Mireny's room had only enough space for a small bed. There was no furniture, and only mud floors and a small pole holding a few items of clothing.  In Julia's eyes, geography and luck seemed to be the only reason for their disparate life circumstances.

Mireny’s mother

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Mireny and her mother are stunning. Throughout our time visiting various needy communities, we noticed that World Vision sponsored children appeared well presented and cared for. I assume that the additional monetary support provides a meaningful difference in those children’s lives.

Jamaica- Teens impacting other Teens

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Our teenagers joined over 30 other teens from our local community this December break to serve underprivileged children and the elderly in Jamaica through maintenance work (pouring a roof and painting a trailer) and providing games, sports and music for a youth camp. Our teenagers were greatly impacted by the love and fellowship of their peers as they served others, together.

Serving Local Connecticut Nonprofits

Harvard Community Partners of CT

Some of you have expressed an interest in identfying local volunteer opportunities.  Although our family is is committing this rare block of time to travel to remote areas internationally, there are many impactful local nonprofits that could benefit from additional volunteers.  Over 8 Years ago, a group of us CT HBS alumni started Harvard Community Partners CT to provide pro bono consulting to CT nonprofits. I enjoy working with this group of big hearted consultants who donate so much of their time and expertise to support our local nonprofits.  Our Community Partners has had the privilege of working with many commendable Connecticut nonprofits which are listed below.

Connecticut Nonprofits

 

Stepping out of our comfort zone

Our family served this summer in South Africa at an orphanage for over 100 children affected by HIV/ AIDS. Each of us was blessed witnessing how God’s love can transform even the most grim of circumstances. The donations and care were so appreciated by these vulnerable children but surprisingly, they seemed most grateful that we came-that people from far away cared enough about them and their plight to work alongside them. We have decided as a family to step out in faith and out of our comfort zone and commit to serve in various overseas nonprofits for the next 12 months. Given the fact that Ken can take time from his credit hedge fund work and our two older kids will only be at home for a few more years, we felt it was an opportune time to serve at organizations that have long term impact.

Courage- Bungee jumping over the Victoria Falls gorge

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Stephen described the jump as “thrilling and memorable” and said, “You know it’s safe”. His confidence resonated with me as our family pledges to continue our volunteer work for the next year. We are obeying and taking the steps of faith to go and serve. We know He will be with us so I too, aspire to leap forward with zeal.

Happiness

If you want happiness for an hour- take a nap. If you want happiness for a day- go fishing. If you want happiness for a month- get married. If you want happiness for a year- inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime-help someone else. Chinese Proverb

Respecting our Elders- Israel

Israel/West Bank/Golan Heights
Israel/West Bank/Golan Heights
Israel/West Bank/Golan Heights
Israel/West Bank/Golan Heights

We plan to devote time enjoying our beloved Grandparents this year. We went with Grandma on a guided tour and pilgrimage to Israel with 40 other Americans this Fall. We were amazed by the historical significance of the many sights. We now have a personal appreciation for the challenges that the people face daily in that region and a heartfelt desire for peace. Ken's mom joined us on this trip and the bonding and appreciation of her by our teens was wonderful to witness! Although our tour group was impressed that she taught Benjamin Netanyahu's younger brother, Iddo during his medical training, our kids seemed more impressed with her stamina keeping up with them in the more rigorous trails like Hezekiah's Tunnel. Many in our tour group were grandparents who have children my age and grandchildren our kids' ages. I appreciated their sage perspective and wistful memories of raising teenagers which reminded me that the time our children are home with us is precious.

Playing Chess

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Stephen has been coaching some children in CT chess this year. He played competitive chess for years- he was ranked top 20 in the UK when we lived in London. I stopped playing with him once he could beat me blind (he'd play blindfolded, I would call out my moves and he memorized the board). I have been impressed with his patience and success engaging players of all skill levels. He is a wonderful teacher- for chess as well as when he has been helping his youngest sister with schoolwork. This year has afforded us an opportunity to recognize our natural abilities.

Love one another

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This is one of the most touching memories I have of this year.  We were freezing during our entire time at Lily Orphanage.  August is winter in South Africa and temperatures would fall to the 30s.  One little girl was cold and I witnessed Christine take off her red sweater and give it to her.    Even our 7 year old instinctively demonstrated empathy and love for another.   

Lunch at a local Zulu home

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While lunch was served, the family’s chicken casually strolled in and out of the house. They had no running water or electricity but the family prepared a lavish meal for 30 volunteers.

Teens at Lily

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Our son really connected with the boys at Lily, many of whom are now aging out of the orphanage. Lily is focusing on providing life skills and opportunities for these older kids in hopes that they will learn to live independently.

Lynn Bound cooking with the older girls

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Lynn is chef of the MoMA cafe so we organized a "cooking day " for the older girls. We were impressed by how they all enthusiastically helped chop up and cook the food and also clean up without any prompting.

The young ladies of Lily were so loving. After our cooking session, the girls asked if they could each take a plate of food. Each took their meal outside to share with the other children. There were no leftovers, everything was devoured.

Huffington Post reports Lynn volunteering at Lily

Loving children

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We were so impressed with their loving, caring nature with one another and all living things. A community of caring for one another. Beautiful and inspiring to witness.

Compassion

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Our kids sprang into action and devoted their days completely and joyfully to serving through music, arts and crafts and sports. I found our days exhausting and confess that I oftentimes wanted to retreat under a tree and take a break. I was so grateful that our kids didn’t feel the same- they spent every moment of their days dedicated to the children we served. They played joyfully, listened intently and generously spent their days serving others.
Ken and I have never been more proud of them.

The Arts and Crafts Team with Katey and Alicia

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The team shared their gifts of patience and joyfulness as they energetically and enthusiastically kept so many children entertained throughout the days.  There were only 3 of them and it was remarkable how they worked tirelessly to engage so many children for so many hours.  I confess, I was exhausted just watching them!

Our team of volunteers from Redeemer Church NYC

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We worked alongside a group of generous and talented people who all gave up precious vacation days to help others. We are so impressed with this generation of 20 and 30 year olds who instinctively think global and commit to projects that will make a difference in our world. Meeting these new friends was one of our blessings from this volunteer experience.

Soccer

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Many boys played barefoot and some played with one shoe since they shared a single pair with one another!

Our first day in So Africa

Lia and Jack-optometrists

We felt His provision immediately upon arriving at Lily of the Valley orphanage. A wooden swing slammed into our little one, narrowly missing her eye. Thankfully we had two volunteer optometrists serving with us who were able to care for her and ensure that her vision was intact.

Welcoming us to Lily

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Our first day and the Lily kids couldn’t wait to meet all the new visitors. Our family stayed in one of the homes in the compound so we were very much a part of their daily routines.

Fire on the mountain

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Within hours of arriving at Lily, there was a brush fire which our team rushed over and beat back with branches before it reached the compound. This was unlike any trip we had taken.

Our checked luggage to So Africa

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Over 40 bags filled with medical supplies, clothing, shoes, cosmetics, sports and arts and crafts equipment were brought over by our team. Our family filled around 10 bags with donations from many of our friends- sincere thanks!

For the last few weeks our family has been working with a team of volunteers organized by Redeemer, the Manhattan church where Ken and I attended as students.  Everyone is bringing their unique skills to the projects we will be working on at Lily Orphanage in So Africa. There is a finance team who will be mapping out sustainable ideas to generate income at the orphanage as well as helping entrepreneurs and individuals in the surrounding community. A medical team of optometrists and a dentist.  Other team members will be engaging the kids through a sports camp, arts & crafts, and music.

Our fundraising project for this mission will contribute to Lily’s Computer Center with much-needed equipment and software that will be invaluable for the children, staff and the neighboring villages.   We are taking Stephen, Julia and Christine in hopes of providing a deeper education that will inform the rest of their studies and their lives.  It will take some sacrifice and a great deal of courage, so we ask that you keep us in your prayers, specifically for healing and a future for each of the children of Lily, and for compassion, wisdom and humility in our attempts to meet the needs of Lily.

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